Blog // Shuttersmack

magic hour

post by leslie

A few weeks back I had a session for Magic Hour.

What’s that, you ask? Magic Hour is this amazing organization I volunteer for that pairs photographers with families whose lives are being disrupted by cancer to offer free family photography sessions and prints. Obviously, I think these photos are important in EVERYONE’s lives, but when a family is affected by serious illness, capturing that love becomes even more important.

This family was so wonderful, and we had such an amazing evening. If you are a photographer anywhere in the US, and you would be interested in donating sessions in your area, please reach out to the organization. I promise you won’t regret it.

change is good

post by leslie

Today I want to tell you about a pretty big change for me. Well, actually, it’s more like a gazillion small changes that have led to an overall metamorphosis, but regardless it’s a big deal and I want you to know about it.

You guys, I got a lot healthier. And I’m working really hard to keep it up (so please stop bringing sweets to my house, I beg of you). Warning: This might read like an ad but it’s not. I genuinely want to share this experience, and I promise I’m not getting paid for it!

Last fall, I was frustrated with my appearance. I know we’re in a big “body positive” movement right now, but I was raised thinking a different way, and I couldn’t shake it.

I had been doing Weight Watchers for about 9 months and wasn’t seeing any real change, and I’d been trying to diet and hadn’t seen any real change, and what they say is true, your body changes when you have a baby and get old, and I was frustrated that the old tricks I had used in my 20s and early 30s were no longer working. I could count calories and starve myself all day long, but I was still stuck with the same body. DON’T WORRY. I SEE THAT IS THE WRONG ATTITUDE NOW. KEEP READING.

So I thought I would hire a health coach to help. I had heard about them on a podcast I’d been listening to, and one of my favorite photo clients who lived a few blocks away was starting a new business, so I decided to stop paying for Weight Watchers and try this instead.

And it changed me, I hope, forever.

Now, before you start wondering if you should hire this same coach (you should) to lose weight (nope, wrong reason), you should know that I am still within 5 lbs of my start weight. And I’ve finally accepted that I will always be within this 7 lb range and it’s ok and this is my body right now, and I’m fine with it. That mental shift ALONE is worth hiring Liz (as seen below in her cute photo).

But let’s get into the dirt of it, shall we? When I started meeting with Liz, I wasn’t sure it would work. I had almost given up on EVERYTHING. But this lady here? She is magic because she truly is a coach. She wants you to succeed and she’s there for you. From texts late at night about my day, to weekly emails encouraging me with recipes, she wanted me to succeed as much as I did. That right there is worth the price of admission.

I should start by saying I thought I was pretty healthy when I first met with Liz. I wasn’t too concerned about my food or habits, but clearly, I didn’t know what a few small changes could do.

The first change she wanted me to try was to increase my water intake a lot. That was it. Just keep eating the way you are (but track it in an app she could see… gulp) and just drink 72 oz of water a day. Now, that’s a LOT of water, but I did it. Did I see a ton of results (besides constant trips to the bathroom)? Not really. But by then it was habit, and I knew it was probably good for me, so I kept it up.

Then, after a few weeks of nailing that goal, she noticed from my food logs that I was only having 1.5 vegetables a day on average. She wanted me to have five. FIVE. That sounded like a lot, but really, one big salad and a side at dinner got that number up for me. Now I was drinking 72-80 oz of water a day AND eating a ton more vegetables. Nothing was moving on the scale really, but my skin started to improve, so I was sticking with it.

After a few weeks of nailing both of these goals, she said she wanted me to exercise a few times a week. You guys, I wasn’t exercising at all. Or if I was, it was yoga. Now listen, I am not knocking yoga. I love yoga. But I’m not sweating during yoga, you know? I mean, maybe in hot yoga. But my heart rate isn’t pounding through the roof like it used to before my favorite yoga teacher moved to Colorado (Kristy, if you’re reading this, I still miss you!).

By now, it was around the holidays and after Thanksgiving I decided that I probably DID need to move more, and I started working out — like the kind of sweaty workout where I have to catch my breath a few times. At first it was just 3 times a week. And then, because I like impressing teachers/coaches, I thought I would do it five days a week. And then it was Christmas morning and I realized that I WANTED to work out because it made me feel better for the rest of the day.

And since then, unless I’ve been ill (or had a massive tooth infection), I’ve worked out every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Because I want to.

I know. C.R.A.Z.Y.

Liz never asked me to work out every day. I just did it because it felt good. I mean, who am I?

After all this, we tried some other goals like lowering my calories a little or cutting out all sugar for the month of February (that was my idea, not Liz’s — don’t worry, she wouldn’t push that on you), and each change left me feeling better and more confident. Liz was also amazing at helping me with some small behavioral shifts. For instance, Jamie loves to eat a giant bowl of yogurt and granola every night at 8 pm. I know I’m not really hungry at that hour, but it’s really hard to sit next to someone who’s eating and, well, not eat. Or at least it’s hard for me.

We talked about other activities that made me happy and did not revolve around food that I could do whenever Jamie made this evening snack, and guess what? Now when Jamie get’s that yogurt dessert, I call the dog over and give her love and snuggles. It fulfills me in a different way, and stops me from eating when I’m not even hungry. There are many more examples like this, but I just wanted to illustrate her genius.

So now I’m a person that drinks water wherever I go, I try to pile on the vegetables at each meal, and I work out every day (even on vacation and holidays). And you guys, I feel so much better. I mean, not only does my body feel better, but I feel stronger and I feel so much more confident. I don’t look at my large thighs and get upset that I can’t be a size 8, I look at my thighs and think of how much weight they lifted that morning. This is a HUGE mental shift for me!

Of course I fall off the wagon (hello cabin weekend) and eat terrible things (Oreos! Cheetos!), but I also feel gross the next few days, which makes it easier to get back on course. And I couldn’t have done it without this woman’s help.

She officially launched her website and business this spring, and I took the photos, which you can see here. If you have ever thought about skipping your gym fees (I work out in my basement) or any other health fees to give a coach a chance, I cannot suggest it enough.

OK. Lecture dismissed.

long time clients

post by leslie

I got to film some of my oldest clients last month, and I can’t wait to show you guys! First, I got to photograph their first child, Betti the Boxer, below. We had so much fun at the dog park all those years ago! This sweetie is now 10.

Then I was honored to photograph their first daughter when she was a baby. And then their next daughter! And now I got to make them a film! The film is above (obviously) and some of my favorite photos from the day are below.

I love these sessions SO MUCH. If your family would be interested in a session like this, you can learn more about it here.

brittany and brandon

post by leslie

So besides shooting the amazing Lizzo last month, we also had a few weddings (and by “we” I mean myself and Lucy, shooting together, which is my FAVORITE way to shoot a wedding!).

Below are images from Brittany and Brandon’s wedding, which was so hilarious and fun. They got married at the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul, and instead of having a DJ, all their friends played cover songs from the stage! And even the bride and groom got up and performed! And it was a riot and everyone’s face hurt from all the smiling.

Also, one of the bride’s VERY favorite musicians, Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack, came and sang a few songs and it was amazing. The expressions and the singing during that set was so damn cool. Anyway, enjoy the photos below!

oh that lizzo show was fun!

post by leslie

Sooooo! We have a lot to catch up on now that the dog project is finished, don’t we?

First of all, I went to this amazing Lizzo show on May 5, and I was beyond thrilled to take photos of the performance. Her new album is on constant replay in our household (don’t worry, we’ve had many conversations with Ezra about appropriate language in music vs. appropriate language in life). SO. MANY. DANCE. PARTIES.

I took photos of Lizzo back in 2012 when she lived in Minneapolis at several smaller clubs (The Entry, Triple Rock and over at First Avenue), but it was thrilling to see her at The Palace because she is on the verge of big arena shows right now. Oh, and I also photographed her singing at a dear friend’s wedding one time (!!!). Watching musicians make it big is about the most fun thing ever. Enjoy the photos!